Archive for March, 2010

Ft. McCoy, WI

Author: Jon

We have arrived back in the states!!!  Or at least southern Canada (Wisconsin).  The flight got in at 1:30 am with the air being a chilly 25 F.  Needless to say, no one was prepared for that.  Even with the unhospitable weather, everyone is glad to be back and on native soil.

We have a few days of de-mob (de-mobilization) and then we’re released.  They don’t have the flight plans or the knowledge of the actual day we’ll return home, but it should be soon.  I’ll keep you informed as I learn more.

In Germany!!!

Author: Jon

We’ve made öur first pit stop on the way home in Germany!!!   Not long now….  I can already smell how much better the air is.  I do wonder what I`ve ingested.

Al Asad, Iraq

Author: Jon

We’ve arrived in Al Asad, Iraq, a US base in the western part of Iraq.  This is our last stop in Iraq until we fly back to the states.

Till then, we’re just trying to find stuff to do to eat up the time.  Everyone just wants to get away from one another as living on top of each other for the past year will make  you hate even your best friend.  They do have a movie theater and indoor swimming pool, so our transition to the states won’t be a total shock.  Other than that, it’s hurry up and wait as usual.

Palace Tours

Author: Jon

Yesterday, I was able to meet up with an old friend from home, 1LT Tom Race, and go on a tour held on VBC (Victory Base Complex).  We went to Saddam’s ‘Victory Over America’ Palace which was still under construction during the initial invasion back in 2003.  Needless to say, it still  needs some work.

After that, we toured the former Bath Party Headquarters.  This was one of the first building his during the Shock & Awe campaign before the invasion.  Saddam was suppose to be at a meeting with 250+ Bath Party members when a Tomahawk missile stuck the conference room.   Unfortunately, Saddam was running late and we missed him, though over 200 of the Bath Party members are still entombed in the building.  For $1 million, a Tomahawk cruise missile better deal out some damage.

Lastly, we went to the Al Faw Palace, which is used as a HQs building by the US Forces.  This one was completed well before the invasion, and as far as I know is undamaged.  Grand and regal are the best way to describe it.  Though, I can’t help wonder how the money spent on it could have been better used for the country…

Wrapping Things Up

Author: Jon

With our replacements now in theatre, we start the fun process of RIPing (Relief In Place). Theoretically, this means we continue missions while we train the new guys what we learned until they are ready to take the reins and do everything themselves.  In reality the process involves so much equipment, items, knowledge and plain Ole Army Bureaucracy to hand over, missions cease until the new unit starts them back up again.  With hope, this will be relatively soon, as we’re setting them up to succeed unlike what our predecessors did for us; namely leaving 90% of the Engineer equipment broken and none of the tactical vehicles set up for missions.

For now, we’ve moved into another tent city, where we’ll wait out the last days in Iraq; although that may sound soon, it isn’t…   Time has seemed to slow to a crawl as everyone is now talking about what they’re going to do when the return home.  Some are looking at buying a house or a car, some just want to see their family, while some go home to nothing: no job, no home besides their parent’s, no education, and no plan.  While the Army does offer many tools to help start one’s civilian life back up, times (as I’m sure we’re all aware of) are tough.  Though for me, I plan to return to my parent’s house until OSU’s fall quarter where I have only two quarters left for my B.S. in Electrical Engineering.  The Army may have turn a 5 year plan into 9, but they did pay for it and have given me a priceless experience in leadership and life.  Until school starts up I plan to visit friends and family as well as take a few vacations that are already scheduled.  Oh, and an Army leadership course, FUN!

I don’t have any pictures this time, sorry.

Back from FOB Kalsu

Author: Jon

After being in FOB Kalsu for a month, I’m back in Baghdad.  Down there, I was in charge of two job sites with 15 Soldiers under my supervision.  It was probably the most teaching experience of the entire tour for me.  While I have run multiple job sites before, the decisions and responsibilities have never rested entirely on my shoulders, I’ve always had someone directly over me to go to for guidance and supervision.  Truthfully, it felt great!  While sometimes it was stressful, aggravating, and down right loathsome, the satisfactory feeling I had seeing the fruits of all my Soldier’s labor come to bare was unbelievable.  It was worth having to be a pion in the army and all the sweat spent working up to this point in my Army career.  I don’t want to take all the credit, I mean the Soldiers did most the work, but organizing, planning, coordinating and executing two simultaneous job sites outside the wire was quite a feat.  Especially considering who the “customer” was.  I won’t disparage a commissioned officer on an open forum, but DAMN!  Just a background on this individual (who is not in my Battalion), who the job sites were for: when it came to his attention that a ditch channeling the water off the FOB was blocked at the perimeter wall, his idea to clear it was to put Detcord in PVC pipe, shove it under the wall and detonate it.  (Not a good idea)  He changed the design of the ECP (Entry Control Point – or gate) 3 times after we had completely finished it to the original specs, I had even briefed him on what I planned to do prior to starting.  He also wondered why, after a hard rain, we weren’t out working in mud, getting stuck.  RE-TARD-ED!

Enough of my bitching, what we went to Kalsu to do was widen the ECP so there was 2 in-bound lanes and 2 out-bound lanes.  The other project was creating a 5-acre staging lane where civilian contractors can wait with their trucks to be searched in a semi-secure area outside the wire.  Anyway, here’s some pics: